Reston, VA

In response to Fairfax County’s revised budget, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn stressed that flexibility is key as the county weathers the economic impact of COVID-19.

The upcoming fiscal year 2021 budget, which is expected to be adopted on May 12 and begin on July 1, underwent revisions earlier this spring to address uncertainties stemming from the pandemic.

Though he expressed disappointment that COVID-19 altered the budget, he said he hopes for economic recovery.

“I strongly believe that we will recover and it should be noted that the Board of Supervisors will have the opportunity to make adjustments at our quarterly reviews,” he said. “This budget is by no means a done deal.”

In the future, Alcorn said he expects the budget to be a living document.

“It is also clear that we still don’t know what the final impacts of the virus will be, so we must continue to be flexible and strategic,” he said.

Earlier in April, he expressed displeasure with the revised budget draft. Now, Alcorn’s latest statement includes many of his previous concerns over a lack of support for local business owners.

“Going forward, I anticipate additional funds being used to help small businesses and others offset the impact of the pandemic on the most vulnerable in our county,” Alcorn said in his statement.

In the statement, Alcorn also reflected on the FY 2020 third-quarter review, saying there is now $200 million in additional funding for the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act.

The act benefits both families and small businesses, according to the U.S. Department of Treasury.

One of Alcorn’s main concerns was how Latino populations are being hit harder by the virus than other demographics around the county.

“Latinos represent 55% of all COVID-19 cases in Fairfax County even though they represent only 16% of the population,” he said, adding that “in Fairfax County stopping COVID starts with the Latino community.”

To address this, Alcorn suggested the application of the county’s One Fairfax policy, which aims to promote social and racial equity, but did not expand on how One Fairfax would directly be applied.

Photo courtesy Hunter Mill District 

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Friday Morning Notes

County Budget Hearings Begin Next Week — “The Board of Supervisors and county staff value public input on the revised FY 2021 Budget proposal. To keep everyone safe during the COVID-19 pandemic, there will be no in-person testimony during the rescheduled budget public hearings, Tuesday through Thursday, April 28 to 30, but there are many ways to share your input.” [Fairfax County Government]

Hunter Mill District Town Hall Today — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting an online budget town hall today (Friday) from 12:30-1:30 p.m. Board member Melanie Meren will also attend the town hall. [Walter Alcorn]

How to Join Reston Association’s Annual Meeting — The association offers an update on how to take part in the annual meeting via zoom. The meeting takes place on Thursday, April 30 at 7 p.m. [Reston Association]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Alcorn to Host Budget Town Hall — Hunter. Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a town hall on Friday at 12:30 p.m. to discuss the updated budget for the next fiscal year. Residents can take part by submitting Facebook Live comments, emailing video, and calling in during the meeting. [Patch]

Letter from Reston Association Hank Lynch — Lynch says that the core business of the association continues. Work on capital projects,  including the dredging and dock replacement at Lake. Staff are making contingency plans for later starts for various events and activities. [Reston Association]

Herndon Village Network Answers the Call — The network, which is part of the county’s Neighbor to Neighbor program, has offered volunteer rides for older adults. Recently, the network coordinated grocery drop-offs for residents. [Fairfax County Government]

Photo via vantagehill/Flickr

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Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill is pitching major revisions to his budget proposal for fiscal year 2021 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The revised budget, which was released yesterday evening, eliminates a proposed three-cent tax rate increase and fee increases across-the-board in order to relieve pressure on the county’s taxpayers. Hill’s proposal also shifts spending to essential services only and removes all salary increases.

No net increase in the county’s revenues is expected.

The proposal maintains funding increases for the county’s health department the school’s health programs, as well as coordination for programs for those with developmental disabilities, and IT infrastructure for the November elections.

Roughly $9.6 million will be set aside in reserve funds to address the pandemic, in addition to eight new positions in the health department to address the county’s response.

“Protecting the jobs and current pay levels of the county’s existing employees continues to be of utmost importance as we progress through these challenging times,” Hill wrote in a letter to the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors.

Hill cautioned that uncertainty about the extent of the economic downtown complicates the budget process.

“At this time, we are unsure how long the current economic downturn will last as we do not yet know how long it will take for our country to begin to control the spread of the COVID-19 virus.”

The county expects next year’s general fund revenues will rest at the 2020 level of $4.5 billion. This estimate assumes that the health crisis is over by July and that gradual recovery prompts the resumption of economic activity, according to the county.

Major hits to revenue streams like the sales tax, transit occupancy tax, and business occupancy tax are also expected. These losses are expected to offset an expected real estate tax revenue increase of 3.7 percent or $107.4 million. Hill said it was unlikely the state would be able to absorb the impact of revenue losses without adjusting allocations to local jurisdictions.

Here’s how revenue streams could be impacted:

  • Personal property tax: Decrease of $9.5 million or 1.5 percent
  • Sales tax: Decrease of $26.7 million or 13.5 percent
  • Transient occupancy tax: Decrease of $7 million or 30 percent
  • Business, professional and occupational licenses: Decrease of $17.2 million or 10 percent
  • Land development services building and inspection fees: Decrease of $4.2 million or 10 percent
  • Interest on investments: Decrease of $36.7 million or 62.6 percent

Fairfax County Public Schools will receive 0.3 percent more than last year’s budget, a fraction of the previously proposed 3.65 percent increase.

Residents can provide testimony on the budget via video, phone or online for upcoming budget hearings, which are rescheduled to April 28-30. The county board is expected to adopt the budget on May 12, after a mark-up meeting on May 5.

As Fairfax County finds itself in a different reality, we will need to think about changes that may be necessary to maintain our premier status. Our future may be leaner, and will certainly be more efficient, as we use different tools to provide the services that are needed for our community,” Hill said.

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Alcorn to Host Virtual Budget Town Hall Today — Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn is hosting a town hall today form 7-9 p.m. on the updated budget. Christina Jackson, the county’s budget director, will join Alcorn during the meeting via Crowdcast. [Crowdcast]

Fairfax Connector Scales Back Service — The county’s transportation department is reducing service on several routes due to reduced ridership. Changes will go into effect on Saturday, April 11. [Fairfax County Government]

Hold on to Your Yard Waste — The county is strongly discouraging from taking their yard waste to the I-66 Transfer Station or I-95 Landfill in order to allow employees to focus on collecting trash and encouraging social distancing. [Fairfax County Government]

New Grocery Store Changes — Harris Teeter and Giant will limit the number of shoppers in their stores. Giant is also implementing one-way aisles. [Washington Business JournalWTOP]

Photo by Marjorie Copson

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As Fairfax County officials adjust to digital meetings and remote work, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn said he’s unsure how the COVID-19 pandemic might affect upcoming budget discussions.

Changes to the protocol called to attention a shifting reality for public officials, Alcorn told reporters during an online meeting on Wednesday (March 25).

“I think we are starting over for the FY2021 budget based on all the changes that have happened in the last few weeks,” he said.

Still, the county’s Budget Committee is going to be meeting virtually next Tuesday (March 31), according to Alcorn. The county executive is expected to present the proposed budget with updated numbers and assumptions based on COVID-19 responses, he said.

“That’s going to be a particularly important budget meeting,” he said. “I’m particularly interested to see what assumptions are going to go into revenues for next year.”

As of right now, the county executive suggested that roughly $11 million be set aside as an emergency fund for COVID-19 response, Alcorn said.

Though the dates and times are still up in the air, Alcorn said that the county will schedule a virtual town hall after next Tuesday.

As originally expected, he also said constituents can expect public hearings to be held in mid-April.

“If we are still in the situation we are in here, we’ll have to be a little bit more creative in terms of how we hear testimony and how the public can participate in that process,” he said, adding that the county staff is brainstorming solutions to this dilemma.

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(Update at 10:41 p.m.: The town hall has been postponed due to uncertainty of available financial resources for the upcoming. budget).

An upcoming town hall meeting on Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill’s budget proposal will take place online.

Instead of conducting the town hall on March 30 in Reston, Hunter Mill District Supervisor Walter Alcorn says the meeting will take place on his Facebook page this Saturday (March 21) from 10-11 a.m. The meeting will also air on Channel 16 and be live-streamed online.

Alcorn said the shift was prompted by fears of the spread of the novel coronavirus.

Residents can send questions on the budget to [email protected] with the subject “Town Hall Question.”

Hill is seeking to increase the county’s real estate tax by three cents.

One cent of the proposed tax, which increases the annual tax bill by roughly $346, will be earmarked for affordable housing initiatives. The remaining two-cent increase will go toward the general fund and other board priorities.

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The real estate tax could increase by three cents in the next fiscal year if the Fairfax County Board of Supervisors accepts a budget proposed by County Executive Bryan Hill.

Hill pitched the budget to the board at a meeting today (Tuesday). One cent of the proposed tax, which increases the annual tax bill by roughly $346, will be earmarked for affordable housing initiatives. The remaining two-cent increase will go toward the general fund and other board priorities.

The increase is expected to bring in nearly $80 million to the county’s coffers.

Unfortunately, we cannot provide appropriate levels of funding in these areas with no adjustments to our tax rates,” Hill wrote in a statement.

Hill is also proposing a four percent tax on tickets for movies, theater, and concerts. If approved, the tax would take effect in October. County officials say that the move could bring in $2.3 million in revenue to the county that would fund arts and tourism efforts.

The $4.6 billion budget represents a nearly four percent increase over last year’s budget. Although Fairfax County Public Schools would receive 3.7 percent more county funds than last year, Hill’s budget leaves $4 million in unmet needs for the school system.

Hill anticipates that the school system can make up the difference between what was requested and what will be allocated through expected increases in state funding this year.

At the meeting, Hill also unveiled the county’s new strategic plan, which outlines nine priority areas that will guide the county’s decision-making over the next 30 years.

Highlights of the plan are below:

Funding to expand school readiness programs like the new Early Childhood Birth to 5 Fund and a recommended $25 million bond referendum for early childhood facilities in 2020 in the Lifelong Education and Learning priority area.

Dedicating one cent of the proposed tax increase to affordable housing under Housing and Neighborhood Livability.

Body-worn cameras and staff for the new Scotts Run Fire and South County Police stations under Safety and Security.

Funding to expand environmental initiatives, Diversion First and the Opioid Task Force under the Health and Environment priority area.

Funding for expanded library hours (11 of 22 locations will move to standardized hours), scholarship assistance for parks programs and use of admissions tax revenue to increase funding for the arts under the Cultural and Recreational Opportunities priority area.

Public hearings on the budget are set for April 14-16. The board will make changes to the proposed budget on April 28, followed by adoption on May 5. 

Photo via Fairfax County Government

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Homeowners, prepare for a hit — The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors have sent forward a budget that includes increases in the county’s real estate tax rate. Most homeowners will pay an additional $241 annually. [WTOP]

Report card for Boston Properties — The real estate investment trust reported results for its first quarter, with a net income of $176 million, up from 97 million this time last year. [Business Wire]

South Lakes High School summer camp — Registration is now open for summer camps at the school, which offers programs for girls basketball, field hockey, football and volleyball. [SLHS]

Flickr pool photo by vantagehill

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Residents of the Hunter Mill District will have a chance tomorrow to weigh in on the fiscal year 2019 budget.

Fairfax County Executive Bryan Hill proposed the $4.29 billion general fund budget in February. The proposal would raise the residential property tax rate from $1.13 to $1.155 per $100 of assessed value.

Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins will hold a town hall on the proposal tomorrow at South Lakes High School from 7-9 p.m.

During the public meeting, Hill will discuss his proposal for the upcoming fiscal year, as well as the county’s financial forecast. Attendees will have the opportunity to ask questions following county presentations.

Photo via handout

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Bundles of joy at Frying Pan Farm Park — You now have two more reasons to visit the park. Elle delivered two lambs earlier this week. [Fairfax County Parks]

Coming up: town hall on the budget — County Executive Bryan Hill will discuss his budget proposal for the next fiscal year at South Lakes High School on March 8 from 7-9 p.m. [Inside NOVA]

Reston-based Appian expands –– The software company is racking up more revenue and dropping some hints about its headquarters. [Washington Business Journal]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Members Needed for Hunter Mill District Citizen Budget Advisory Committee – Hunter Mill District Supervisor Cathy Hudgins is seeking members for the committee which meets from January through March to offer recommendations to the supervisor about the budget. Hudgins will appoint several members. To express interest, send a resume to [email protected] [Fairfax County Government]

Ellucian Picks New CEO — The Reston-based company, which provides software and services for higher education management, selected Laura Ipsen as the CEO. Ipsen previously worked as a general manager and senior president for Oracle Corp.’s cloud marketing division. [Washington Business Journal]

Community Holiday Performances at Fountain Square Tonight — Musical performances continue today at Fountain Square. Sunrise Valley Elementary School’s chorus will perform carols today from 6:30 – 7: p.m. Fountain Square is a 760,000 square foot mixed used project located in Reston Town Center. [Reston Town Center]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Public Safety Forum Set for Tonight — The Fairfax County Police Department’s Reston District Station will hold a community public safety forum tonight from 7-9 p.m. at McNair Elementary School (2499 Thomas Jefferson Drive, Herndon). Police leaders will discuss the “State of Reston,” pedestrian safety initiatives and crime prevention, and they will introduce the community to valuable resources. [Supervisor Cathy Hudgins]

Morning Crash Causes Traffic Delays — At about 6:15 a.m. today, FCPD reported a crash on Sunrise Valley Drive in the area of Fairfax County Parkway that caused “significant traffic delays.” All lanes were reported open again before 7 a.m. [Fairfax County Police Department/Twitter]

Supervisors Approve Budget Carryover — At its meeting Tuesday, the county Board of Supervisors approved $59.6 million in FY2017 carryover funding, to be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]

Review: ‘Disgraced’ Challenges and Chafes Audiences — The play about Muslim assimilation and identity in America, now being performed at NextStop Theatre Company (269 Sunset Park Drive, Herndon) left a reviewer “examining [his] own life experiences and [his] own long-time, deeply-held progressive values and beliefs.” [DC Metro Theater Arts]

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Wednesday Morning Notes

Hassanen Murder Suspect Court Date Set — A preliminary hearing has been set for Friday, Oct. 13, for the prosecution of Darwin Martinez Torres. Torres is accused of attacking, abducting and killing Nabra Hassanen in the early morning hours of June 18. [Connection Newspapers]

Libertarian Leaders Speaking in Reston — The Young Americans for Liberty conference, taking place today through Saturday at the Sheraton Reston Hotel, will feature more than 40 speakers sharing Libertarian values. Among them will be Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.), Rep. Justin Amash (R-Mich.), Rep. Thomas Massie (R-Ky.) and Judge Andrew Napolitano. [Young Americans for Liberty]

Changes Made to WMATA Board — The Trump Administration is replacing a pair of safety specialists, who were appointed by President Obama’s transportation secretary, with a pair of finance and budget bureaucrats who worked in the Bush Administration. [WAMU]

Work Being Done on Reston Station Staircase — The stairs from Reston Station Boulevard to the Wiehle-Reston East plaza are closed for repairs, which include new tiles on the landings and improvements to the drainage system. [Fairfax Connector]

Nearly $60M in County’s Carryover Budget — The county executive recommends the funds be used in part to fund reserves and infrastructure needs, along with other projects including the demolition of the Massey Building. [Fairfax County]

Supreme Court Ruling Leads to Changes in Sign Zoning — After the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that “content-based” regulations on signs do not meet the strict scrutiny test required by the First Amendment to protect free speech, the County must re-examine its zoning rules regarding messages on signs. [Fairfax County]

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The Fairfax County Board of Supervisors at their meeting Tuesday morning marked up the proposed FY2018 budget, and the current real estate tax rate remains.

Upon approval of the budget, the real estate tax rate will remain at the FY 2017 level of $1.13 per $100 of the assessed value of the home, as proposed by the county executive. (The average Reston real estate assessment has gone down by 0.33 percent in 2017.) Board chairman Sharon Bulova said the stable rate “ensure[s] Fairfax County continues to be an affordable place to live for seniors and families.”

At the board’s Feb. 28 meeting, Supervisor Cathy Hudgins (Hunter Mill District) supported an amendment that would have raised the advertised real estate tax rate to $1.15 per $100. The amendment, introduced by Supervisor Kathy Smith (Sully District), failed by a vote of 7-3, with Supervisor Daniel Storck (Mount Vernon District) casting the third vote in favor.

Changes in the marked-up $4.1 billion budget include:

  • an additional $1.7 million in funding for Fairfax County Public Schools above the amount in the county executive’s proposed budget, for a total transfer of $2.17 billion (52.8 percent of the budget)
  • just under $2 million and 18 new positions to support the second year of the county’s Diversion First initiative, which helps divert individuals with mental illness from jail into mental health treatment
  • more than $13 million in reductions and nine position eliminations, resulting from agency reductions and continued savings in fuel and retiree health expenses

The marked-up budget was approved by an 8-2 vote of the Board, with Smith and Storck dissenting.

The board is expected to officially approve the budget May 2, and it will go into effect July 1.

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